Menu

Repairing an Injured Rotator Cuff

As we get older, rotator cuff injuries become more common, a result of the natural aging process. A similar mechanism operates in the discs separating the vertebras in your lower back. These cartilaginous structures lose water over time, becoming less flexible and more brittle as the decades roll by. In the case of the shoulder, the rotator cuff tendon is pulleyed to and fro as the arm swings forward and back and up and down. As the years pass, this constant motion may cause fraying in the rotator cuff tendon and inflammation in the muscles that comprise the rotator cuff. Eventually, partial or full thickness tears may develop in one or more of these musculotendinous units, causing pain and some loss of function. Importantly, conservative care may be all that’s needed to reduce pain and restore needed motion.

The shoulder joint is beautifully designed and a marvel of engineering. Its construction makes possible a full 360-degree arc of motion in both the sagittal and frontal planes. In other words, you can swing your arm in a complete circle from front-to-back and to-the-side-and-up-and-around. In the third, horizontal, plane, 180 degrees of motion is available. The overall combination of movements in three-dimensional space makes the shoulder joint the most freely movable joint in your body. However, as with all freedoms we enjoy in this life, there is a price. The shoulder joint’s great mobility is countered by its very limited stability.

The shoulder’s lack of stability needn’t concern us in our average day-to-day tasks. Protection to the joint is built-in by way of the rotator cuff muscles, which form a strong hood that envelops the intersection of the arm bone and shoulder blade. Falling on an outstretched arm may result in a dislocated shoulder, so we need to have some care in this regard.

If you’re a young athlete and have suffered a rotator cuff tear, surgery may be an appropriate option.1 But for the vast majority of people, especially for those over age 40, most rotator cuff injuries are chronic rather than acute and can be treated with rest and rehabilitative exercise. Again, if you’re a 60-year-old skier who has torn his or her rotator cuff in a downhill accident, surgery could be indicated. For the rest of us, rehabilitative exercise is the key.2,3

Four or five primary strength training exercises are involved in shoulder or rotator cuff rehabilitation. The three basic shoulder exercises are (1) seated overhead press, which trains all the shoulder girdle muscles simultaneously; (2) standing side [lateral] raise; and (3) seated or standing bent-over raise. The lateral raise specifically trains the middle deltoid muscle and the bent-over raise specifically trains the posterior deltoid muscle. Specific rotator cuff strength training exercises include internal rotation and external rotation on a flat bench using very light dumbbells. More painful injuries with greater loss of mobility may require (1) Codman pendulum exercises and (2) finger-walking (up a wall) to the front and to the side.

The goals of rotator cuff rehabilitation, as for any mechanical injury, include decreased inflammation, decreased pain, return to more full active range of motion, return to more full muscular strength, and restoration of function.

1 Plate JF, et al: Rotator cuff injuries in professional and recreational athletes. J Surg Orthop Adv 22(2):134-142, 2013

2 Escalmilla RF, et al: Optimal management of shoulder impingement syndrome. Open Access J Sports Med 5:13-24, 2014

3 McMahon PJ, et al: What Is the Prevalence of Senior-athlete Rotator Cuff Injuries and Are They Associated With Pain and Dysfunction? Clin Orthop Relat Res 2014 Mar 12. [Epub ahead of print]

Location

Find us on the map!

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

10:00 am-1:00 pm

4:00 pm-6:30 pm

Tuesday:

(by appointment only/ emergencies)

Wednesday:

10:00 am-1:00 pm

4:00 pm-6:30 pm

Thursday:

(by appointment only/ emergencies)

Friday:

10:00 am-1:00 pm

4:00 pm-6:30 pm

Saturday:

(by appointment only/ emergencies)

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Reviews By Our Satisfied Patients

    My name is Lilian and I have struggled with back pain as a result of poor posture. I have been experiencing scoliosis and nerve aches since my teenage years. After a number of visits with two separate neurologists, their recommendation was to simply use pain medication and accept living in pain. Ultimately, I turned to chiropractic care as a final option. Looking back, I wish I could've known sooner about going to see a chiropractor. This specialized care restored my health and changed my outloo

    Lilian G.

    Excellent service, they explain everything and help you to really improve, not for a simple back adjustment

    Javier A.

    I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, anxiety disorder and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). I was in constant pain and sometimes wasn't able to do simple household chores. I had horrible fatigue and woke up exhausted every day even if I slept 10 hours. I Had migraines daily and anxiety attacks that eventually would come with no apparent cause. I was depressed and miserable. I went to every specialist: Endocrinologist, cardiologist, neurologist, rheumatologist... Some thought I was crazy and asked

    A. Mendez

    Jennifer had done wonders for my shoulder. My first visit I had shoulder lock and I could barely move my arm at all. Three visits later I have full motion and I haven’t felt better. It’s pretty mind blowing what this place is capable of! Visit ASAP

    Austin P.

    Amazing Doctor. She is very passionate in what she does. Highly recommend her. Her staff is also amazing. I feel great thanks to her skills and compassion. My condition with my back is 95% better thanks to her. Very impressed!!!

    Pablo R.